More success seems to lead to more problems for successful college athletic departments. The debate of whether student athletes should get paid has been a constant throughout the past few years.
College athletics continue to be one of the most monetarily beneficial areas of many universities and colleges. Athletic departments bring in millions of dollars because of talented athletes and their abilities.
According to The Huffington Post, top NCAA executives earn $1 million per year. Adversely, it does seem slightly unfair that college athletes can’t earn $50 from signing a few autographs; however, many college athletes receive compensation in different forms.
Full scholarships and partial scholarships are not unusual within the athletics community, with many athletes having most of their college experience paid for.
The Huffington Post reported that Division 1 college athletic scholarships are generally $25,000 per year, which often covers tuition and housing; however, the cost of college is more than just tuition. Average expenses often include books, extra class material, recreational expenses and fees for joining organizations.
To make up for these expenses, there are some college athletes on scholarship who receive small stipends to cover these expenses.
The Seattle Times reported that Washington State University President Elson Floyd, who chairs the Pac-12 CEO group, said the conference is trying to calculate the total cost of attendance, which basically entails the required payment left over for a college athlete to pay between an athlete’s scholarship and the out-of-pocket costs — estimated to be an average of $3,500 per athlete.
Although, it is a double-edged sword, as there are downfalls to being a student athlete. Many of the athletes are unable to play all four years of college due to various injuries.
According to Daily Finance, 86 percent of college athletes living on campus fall below the federal poverty line. Some college athletes come from low-income families that cannot afford to send their children money to cover the other expenses.
“They aren’t allowed to have jobs. Being an athlete is a full time job,” said technology sophomore Olivia Smith. “They have to go to practice, press conferences and team meetings. They don’t have free time to do anything else. A lot of people don’t agree with them getting paid, but (the players) are sacrificing so much.”
For most college students, having a full-ride scholarship and financial aid would be a dream. While athletic students do more than just the average student, the extent of their privilege cannot be ignored — despite the possible downfall of a revoked scholarship.
While it is true that athletes’ days start early and end late and athletes still have to fit in time to study, there are plenty of other students who have equally full days — whether it is due to work or family life.
It is undeniable that college superstars such as Johnny Manziel, Tyrann Mathieu and more have brought much attention to their campuses because of their huge impact at their university — thus allowing the universities to make tremendous profit by receiving media attention, ticket sales and merchandise sales. However, these athletes often receive more than just a full scholarship, but a chance to travel and get once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
According to Arizona Daily Star, University of Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne said he doesn’t agree with college athletes receiving an income.
“I find it amusing at times when I hear the narrative that student athletes don’t get anything,” Byrne said. “I look at our budget and the millions of dollars that are spent on their experience, athletically, academically and socially. We invest a lot of resources into the student athlete with the intent of providing a strong experience.”
If college athletes were paid, it would cause quite a bit of uproar. Athletes deciding which university they will attend and get a scholarship for is already a big deal, but if they were paid it would cause so much more controversy.
Allowing college athletes to receive compensation outside of their scholarships and stipends would be over the top. A free education cannot become undervalued. Student athletes getting the chance to attend universities for free while also getting a chance to create a platform for themselves is a gift.
Opinion columnist Faith Alford is a journalism sophomore and may be reached at [email protected].